Carmelo Anthony Gets Respite From Trade Chatter With 'Heatles' on Horizon
But that's OK with Anthony.
"There's always going to be a joke,'' the Denver star, whose future has been up in the air for months, said Wednesday. "I don't worry about that.''
At least something that happens on the court Thursday night will distract from talk about about when Anthony might be traded and where he might go. Then again, maybe it won't.
The Nuggets play host to Miami, which has the makings of a very good game. But comparisons between Heat star James and the Nuggets' Anthony will be inevitable leading up to and throughout the game.
It was James' "The Decision'' to go from Cleveland to Miami last summer and join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh that rocked the NBA. Anthony said earlier this season that situation came into play when New Orleans guard Chris Paul made the toast at Anthony's July 10 wedding that Paul and Anthony one day would join Amar'e Stoudemire in New York.
"The Miami Heat thing was the hot topic at that point in time,'' Anthony had told FanHouse in November. "There were a lot of guys, a lot of players (at the wedding), just laughing and joking about it.''
Joke or no joke, what James did has been linked to the situation involving Anthony, who has yet to sign a three-year, $64.47 million contract extension and can opt out of his contract and become a free agent next summer. Anthony said he and his friend James have talked regularly this season, although he said their circumstances have been different.
"I wouldn't compare my situation to his,'' Anthony said. "It's kind of different for me because I'm actually playing through it whereas for him he dealt with it in the offseason. He just tells me to stay strong and keep doing what I'm doing and keep going out there and playing the way I'm playing. It seems like I'm doing a good job of keeping all that stuff off the court. So that's pretty much the message (from James).''
Anthony's saga has become "The Indecision'' due to trade rumors swirling around him since late last summer. Although nothing was believed to be imminent Wednesday, he could be dealt to New Jersey if he would sign an extension with the Nets.
But there's been no indication yet Anthony is willing to do that. A source had told FanHouse on Dec. 20 that Anthony didn't want to go to New Jersey, although the source Tuesday could not be sure about his current mindset. Anthony could hold out until closer to the Feb. 24 trade deadline, with hopes of being traded to New York, perhaps his preferred destination.
"I don't know how to answer that question,'' Anthony said Wednesday about there being any chance he might not go to New Jersey. "I don't know. I can't answer that question. I'm not answering that question.''
The main difference between the situations involving Anthony and James is that Anthony decided in the summer of 2006 to sign a contract extension that didn't allow him to become a free agent until the summer of 2011 at the earliest while James, Wade and Bosh all were able to become free agents last summer. With a new collective bargaining agreement to be in place and NBA owners desperate to cut salaries, Anthony faces a big risk if he does opt for free agency this summer.
"I made a great decision anyway,'' Anthony said of never having any regrets about taking the longer deal. "I don't really think it's about the money. I made a great decision to come back (to Denver).''
As for the first meeting between James with the Heat and Anthony, it's a bit different than previous Denver-Cleveland meetings, which were dubbed "Melo vs. LeBron.''
"They always hyped that game up, me and LeBron, especially when he was in Cleveland,'' Anthony said. "Now, I don't hear too much about me and LeBron because they got 'The Heatles.'''
That would be the Beatles-rhyming nickname James has given the star-studded Heat. Anthony called the nickname "hilarious'' although one of his teammates would beg to differ.
"The Heatles?'' said guard Ty Lawson. "I'd never name my team that ever.''
Lawson was hardly saying glowing things about the Heat on Wednesday. He doesn't believe Miami is the best team in the Eastern Conference.
"I don't think so,'' Lawson said. "I really think Boston is. Boston, they play together. They're hurt right now. They have a strong team.''
Miami (30-10) is percentage points behind the Celtics (29-9) for the best record in the East. The Heat had its 13-game road winning streak, three shy of the NBA record, snapped with a 111-105 loss Wednesday to the Los Angeles Clippers.
It's hardly out of the question the Heat could drop another one in Denver. The Nuggets looked good in breaking a three-game losing streak with a 132-98 win over Phoenix on Tuesday. And, while Denver rested Wednesday, Miami was due to travel from Los Angeles and lose an hour with the likelihood of arriving at the team hotel at 4 a.m. MST Thursday.
With Miami ready to make its only Denver appearance of the regular season, there was plenty of talk about the super team after Wednesday's practice. Nuggets coach George Karl went so far as to say about James, "I think he's probably the most talented player to ever play the game.''
Nuggets point guard Chauncey Billups revealed Wednesday where he had hoped James would end up last summer.
"I was surprised that it was Miami,'' Billups said. "I was hoping New York. I just wanted to see that Garden. It's already (loud). I couldn't imagine (James) there. It would have been crazy.''
Billups also said he doesn't like the concept of a super team.
"No, I don't,'' he said. "I like it better, some of my favorite games are watching (James and Wade) play against each other ... As a fan, I enjoyed that.''
If a proposed three-team trade, which also would include Detroit, does end up going through, Billups would be seeing a lot more of James and Wade playing together. He could end up in New Jersey along with Anthony.
That would make Lawson the starting point guard for the Nuggets. He admits he's "thought about it a couple of times'' and would be up for the task
"I'm definitely ready to step into the role,'' Lawson said of if that ended up being what is required.
Karl, while he likes Lawson, did express some reservations with Lawson on Tuesday. Karl said Lawson is currently too "laid back'' to be the leader the coach wants.
"Yeah, we talk about it,'' Lawson said in response to Karl's comments. "I am real laid back ... When I first came in, I was a rookie (last season). It's Melo, Chauncey. I wanted to play my role ... So I got to try to be more vocal. More like getting in people's faces. Just more talkative.
"It takes time. You got your idols. I looked at Melo and Chauncey for the last like six or seven years. So when I come in, (it's hard) to tell them, 'You need to do this.' So it's kind of a rough place where I'm at right now, but I'm getting into that (leadership) role.''
Lawson won't have to worry about telling them what to do if Anthony and Billups are gone. But there's nothing believed to be imminent on any trade front for the Nuggets.
On Thursday, Anthony wouldn't mind the focus being on Melo vs. "The Heatles.''
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson